Kenya is joining the African 4g LTE club

February 9, 2015 • East Africa, Regions, Telecoms & Mobile

The airwaves are buzzing with the latest Kenyan mobile industry news, as Safaricom have announced that they’re bringing lightning-fast 4G LTE mobile broadband to Kenya!

On December 4th 2014, Safaricom announced that 4G LTE was now being built, and would be widely available by around 2017!

What does this news mean to phone users and operators in Kenya and beyond? Keep reading as we explore…

4G LTE is short for ‘long term evolution’ and is technology which vastly improves the speed of mobile broadband. When used it will provide download speeds of around 300MB/s and upload speeds of 75MB/s, that’s as fast, if not faster. Than many fixed-line broadband connections, especially in the developing world of Asia, the Americas, and Africa!

Mobile internet is key all around Africa, as it’s the main source of people’s internet, and so it’s no surprise that Kenya, one of the hubs of mobile innovation in Africa, is pushing ahead to be one of the few countries (at this point) with a commercial 4G LTE network infrastructure.

At the moment there are only a select few African countries with 4G LTE networks, and on the map below they’re signified in red, whereas blue (like Kenya) means coming soon:

world map including African 4G LTE networks

So out of the many African countries, you’ll find 4G LTE networks in:

  • Algeria
  • Angola
  • Gabon
  • Ghana
  • Ivory Coast
  • Kenya
  • Lesotho
  • Liberia
  • Madagascar
  • Mauritius
  • Namibia
  • Nigeria
  • Rwanda
  • South Africa
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

So with Kenya’s imminent arrival, the big three mobile technology drivers of Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa are all accounted for, and it’s clear that mobile innovation in Africa will continue, and in fact be bolstered, thanks to its benefits.

Why Is 4G LTE good news for African mobile network operators?

4gMore African 4G LTE networks can only be a good thing for mobile operators, regardless of whether you’re in a country or region which has access to it now, or not.

4G LTE services WILL make you money. Here’s why: Users will get a taste for, and use more mobile data.

Mobile broadband internet is very attractive, but at slow speeds becomes virtually unusable, and not worth the money. While 3G speeds may be adequate for checking Facebook statuses and sending email, times are moving on.

Now smartphone users are looking for greater bandwidth. They want to:

  • Stream music
  • Stream HD videos, TV shows, or movies
  • Create and upload their own HD videos
  • Use VoIP apps for video calling
  • Take advantage of cloud storage

So you can see that the usage behaviour is moving away from simply using a tiny amount of mobile data to check mobile web pages, and is heading towards using a lot more data to stream, download, and upload much larger files, or amounts of data.

Since 4G LTE is so much faster than 3G, once phone users start to experience the convenience of doing these more advanced tasks with their smartphones, they’ll be hooked, and never want to go back to slow old 3G.

So if you’re in Kenya, now’s the time when you’re able to offer a greater selection of affordable smartphones safe in the knowledge that people are going to buy them in order to take advantage of 4G LTE on Safaricom; or if you’re in another country, you can expect to be rolling out your own 4G services ASAP because it’s clear that they’re sought after, and successful in other African countries.

Why Is 4G LTE good news for Kenyan phone users?

kenyan phone users from masai tribe

Mobile internet has taken off to such a degree in Kenya, that Safaricom saw it as crucial to get 4G LTE up and running in order to capitalise on Kenyans’ lust for mobile internet, and make more profit from mobile data.

In fact, in the 6 months of 2014 running up to September, Safaricom saw web data revenue rise by more than 50%! (source)

It’s a win-win, as Kenyans will benefit from cutting edge mobile data speeds, allowing them to do so much more online with affordable smartphones, and Safaricom will increase profits due to an increase in data use.

4G LTE will offer Kenyan phone users:

  • Download speeds of ten times more than 3G (as discussed above)
  • The ability to video chat and conference for business, or pleasure, using Android apps like skype, or Google hangouts
  • Do business properly on their phones, especially using native Google apps for Android such as Google Drive and its cloud storage, collaboration, and writing, spreadsheets, etc
  • Play games of a console standard, as the extra bandwidth means that smartphones can display games far in advance of simpler Android games
  • Use their smartphones as a mobile hotspot (as long as this is included in the phone’s specs)

There’s nothing not to like here, and so exciting times are ahead for Kenya’s mobile users.

Your Turn…

Are you a Kenyan phone user? How do you feel about this Kenyan mobile industry news? Will you be signing up to 4G LTE when it’s available? How will it benefit you and your country most?

Please add your comment below and join the conversation.


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